Why We Need Biofuels
by Gale Buchanan, S.Z. Li, James R. Fischer and Joshua Yean (25 x ’25) The following guest blog is a response to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial that criticized U.S. biofuel policy. The authors of this rebuttal are from Gale Buchanan, a former USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary; S.Z. Li, a bioenergy professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing; James R. Fischer, a consultant and former member of the board of directors of the DOE’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Agency; and Joshua Yean, assistant professor of plant biotech at Texas A&M University.
Biofuels will be a part of the future energy needs of this planet. Renewable energy is a key component to achieve the reality of a future that is sustainable for human development. The world’s population topped 7 billion in October 2011 and is poised to reach 9 billion well before mid-century. All of these people need energy for a fruitful life.
…Given that scenario, we suggest that we start now to plan for when fossil fuels are no longer available. We must move to a more sustainable future.
…The biomass accumulated from photosynthesis using the sun’s energy can be a generator of liquid fuels. Biomass is important because of the immense amount of energy captured from the sun by photosynthesis – approximately 100 trillion watts per year, about six times the energy needed by all humans on the planet.
The crucial question for our countries as well as all countries of the world is: How do we make the transition from the comfortable fossil-energy supported world we live in today to a future world that is supported by sustainable energy?
The first step is recognizing the seriousness of the problem. Next is developing and securing “buy in” of an approach to achieving sustainable energy security.
…However, the investment is still limited and long-term commitments are still needed. More importantly, more countries and parties need to be engaged for this and other challenging tasks to channel the energy of sunlight into sustainable fuels and chemicals for the generations to come.
Now is the time for all countries to work together to develop the most efficient means of capturing the readily available sun’s energy. Biofuel must be a part of our future energy mix. READ MORE